Buying an Older Home? Watch Out for These 3 Key Flaws That Could Spell Trouble

Posted in Home Buyer Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on October 12th, 2017

Buying an Older Home? Watch Out for These 3 Key Flaws That Could Spell TroubleAre you a fan of homes with a bit more character than newer, modern designs? Whether in pristine condition or more of a “fixer upper,” older homes are incredibly popular in cities across the country. However, there are some key factors to consider if you’re thinking about buying a home built decades ago before modern standards were enforced.

Let’s take a look at three key design issues that you will need to be aware of if you’re thinking about buying an older house.

Old Electrical Designs Can Be A Significant Fire Hazard

No matter when a home was built, it’s almost guaranteed to have electrical wiring running through walls to supply rooms with lighting and power outlets. However, if the wiring was run in decades past it may be with older cords that are less able to withstand a modern workload. A quick check of the circuit-breaker panel or fuse box and the wires leading from it can give an idea just how old the wiring is. As older designs can be a fire hazard, you will want to ensure the wiring is up to date.

Poor Plumbing Design Can Lead To Rot Or Worse

Plumbing can also be an issue in older houses – especially those in states that experience a cold winter. Water pipes tend to expand and contract due to temperature, which can lead to stress and leaks over time. Moreover, even though older pipes are typically made of metal, they can still wear out. The last thing you need is to wake up to a flooded basement, so be sure to have the plumbing professionally inspected.

Is The Roof And Insulation Strong Enough?

While the roof might look solid from the outside, it may not be as well put together on the inside. Even the smallest of holes or leaks in roof membrane can wreak havoc on the structural integrity of the roof. It’s worth spending some time in the attic to inspect the inside of the roof, the condition of the insulation and how well the entire structure is holding up.

While the above list might sound a bit scary, it isn’t meant to turn you away from buying an older character home. If you’re diligent in checking out the home’s history and invest in a professional inspection, you’ll stay safe. When you’re ready to explore character home options in the local area, contact our local real estate professional.

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Buying a New Home? Here’s Why Mortgage Pre-Approval Should Be Your First Step

Posted in Home Buyer Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on October 10th, 2017

Buying a New Home? Here's Why Mortgage Pre-Approval Should Be Your First StepAre you thinking about buying a new house, condo or apartment? Whether you are upgrading, downsizing or investing, if you intend on borrowing the funds you’ll need to be pre-approved for a mortgage. In today’s blog post we’ll explore mortgage pre-approval and why this should be one of your first steps in buying a new home.

Pre-Approval Helps To Determine Your Budget

Do you know your budget? Mortgage lenders consider many factors when deciding how much they are willing to lend to a home buyer. While your employment status, salary, assets and credit rating are important, they are all pieces of a larger puzzle that help a lender to determine your risk. So regardless of how spotless your credit rating might be, you’ll want to get pre-approved for a mortgage before trying to figure out your total purchase budget.

The size of your down payment will also be a factor in determining your overall budget. If you still have a bit of time before you’re ready to buy a home, continue to put money aside for your down payment. The more you have, the less you’ll need to borrow.

Once Pre-Approved You Are Ready To Make An Offer

Once you’re pre-approved for your mortgage, you’re ready to submit an offer for the home. Note that you do not need to bid high just because you are approved for a large mortgage. Work with your real estate agent to determine the right asking price for the home. Submitting a bid that’s a bit lower than you’re willing to pay leaves you with a bit of room in case the seller makes a counteroffer.

Many Sellers Will Demand Pre-Approval

Finally, don’t forget that many sellers will require that you are pre-approved for mortgage financing before they’ll accept a bid or offer. Many listings end up receiving multiple offers, especially those in hot real estate markets or popular communities. So if you table an offer without pre-approval, you may find that it is rejected in favor of another buyer who is ready to go.

Once you’ve been pre-qualified for mortgage financing, pre-approval is the final step in the process before you’re ready to make an offer and purchase your new dream home. For more information about the home buying process and to view some amazing listings in the local area, contact us today.

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Let’s Talk Buyer Qualification: How to Ensure You Sell Your Home to the Right Buyer

Posted in Home Seller Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on September 29th, 2017

Let's Talk Buyer Qualification: How to Ensure You Sell Your Home to the Right BuyerAre you listing your home for sale? If so, it is time to get ready to meet with buyers and their real estate agents. And while you surely want to sell your home as quickly as possible, you will also want to do your homework to make sure you’re selling to the right person. Let’s explore the process of buyer qualification and why it’s important to do a little digging into potential buyers of your home.

Is Your Buyer Pre-Approved For Mortgage Financing?

First, you’ll want to check with your buyer to see if they are approved for mortgage financing. The last thing you want is to agree to an offer only to have the buyer rescind it because they can’t afford your home. If the buyer is not already approved, suggest that they take that additional step before submitting their offer. Otherwise, you may end up experiencing significant delays in the closing process.

Ensure Your Buyer Has Their Earnest Money Ready

Next, you’ll want to check with your buyer to make sure that they have their earnest money ready. These funds are a deposit, typically one or two percent of the purchase price, which is held in escrow once you accept the buyer’s offer. Earnest money is a way for the buyer to prove to you that they are serious about purchasing your home. Once they have placed the deposit down, you can be confident that the buyer intends to close.

Note that the terms of your agreement should ensure that if the buyer backs out of the deal, you get to keep some or all of their earnest money. This is especially important if you’re fielding multiple offers for your home as you may lose the chance to sell if the buyer backs out.

Be Wary Of Offers That Seem Too Good To Be True

If an offer seems too good to be true, that may just be the case. Be wary of any offers that are significantly more than your asking price, or if the buyer is willing to buy your home without so much as an inspection. Rest assured that any serious buyer is going to do their due diligence to ensure they’re getting a good deal.

Buyer qualification is a bit of a process, but it’s an important step that ensures your home sale goes smoothly. When you’re ready to list your home for sale, contact your local real estate professional. We will be happy to assist you with finding the right buyer.

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The Quick and Easy Guide to Finding the Best Real Estate Agent to Sell Your Home

Posted in Home Seller Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on September 21st, 2017

The Quick and Easy Guide to Finding the Best Real Estate Agent to Sell Your HomeIs it time to move on from your house, townhouse or condo? If a sale is in your near future, you will want to start looking for a professional selling agent or broker to help manage the process. Let’s take a look at our quick and easy guide to finding the best real estate agent to handle your home sale.

Check Your Social Network

The easiest place to start is your social network, as almost everyone knows a great real estate agent. Get a post up on Facebook sharing that you are about to sell your home and you’re looking for the very best agent to help you sell it. Maybe an old high school acquaintance or college friend is now in the real estate business and can help.

Ask Your Friends And Family For Referrals

If you aren’t close with a trustworthy real estate agent, the next best people to ask are your local friends and family. It is unlikely that you’re going to get a bad referral from your best friend, brother or aunt. Send out a few text messages and make a few calls to let the family know that you’re hunting for a great real estate agent. Soon enough, you’ll have some recommendations.

Check Their Designations And Specialties

You might not know this, but real estate agents have specialties and designations available to certify in. Aside from becoming a REALTOR®, your agent may be a Certified Residential Specialist, an Accredited Buyer’s Representative, a Seniors Real Estate Specialist and more.

Be Sure To Read Reviews And Talk To Past Clients

When you’ve made a short list of your final choices for a selling agent, it’s time to check on their recent work. Ask the agent for a list of houses or other properties that they’ve sold recently. If possible, you’ll also want to socialize with some of their past clients to see what the agent is like. You’ll be working closely together for at least a couple of weeks, so it’s important that you choose a real estate professional that you’re comfortable with.

Selling your home is not a painful process, but it’s one where you’ll want to have the best agent working to protect your interests. If you’re thinking about making a move, contact your local real estate professional.

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Selling Your Home? Here’s 3 Reasons Why You Won’t Want to Handle the Sale Yourself

Posted in Home Seller Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on September 14th, 2017

Selling Your Home? Here's 3 Reasons Why You Won't Want to Handle the Sale YourselfAre you thinking about selling your home? If so, you may be weighing the pros and cons of working with a professional real estate agent. Let’s take a quick look at three great reasons why you won’t want to handle the sale yourself.

You Won’t Save As Much As You Think

Let’s start with the most common and obvious reason that homeowners try to handle their home sale: the cost. It’s true that selling your home using the services of a real estate professional isn’t going to be free. Depending on the value of your home, their commission might range from two to four or five percent of the final sale price. However, the entire reason you’re paying commission is that you’re contracting with a professional to do a job. Your real estate agent is there to both share their experience and handle all of the tasks and responsibilities with your sale. Without them, you’ll be responsible for everything from creating an online listing for your property to figuring out how to host an open house.

So while you may believe you are saving money by not paying commission, you’re going to be burning a lot of your time. If you’re already busy in your career or as a parent, that may end up costing you more in the long run.

A Professional And Objective Eye Is A Huge Plus

Objectivity is another great reason to work with a real estate professional when selling your home. If you had to answer right now, would you say your home is better than your neighbor’s? Better than all the houses on your street, even? The majority of home sellers do believe their home is “above average,” which is of course statistically impossible.

When someone has been the one painting, renovating and putting love into her home for so long, it is no surprise that she becomes attached to it. A real estate agent’s objective eye can offer a nice dose of reality and help to keep the sale moving.

Many Buyers Will Automatically Avoid Owner Sales

Are you a professional salesperson? If not, do you have experience dealing with the public? Selling your home is a significant financial transaction in which you’re going to have to meet with buyers. Moreover, from their perspective, it’s likely that your home is not the only one they’re viewing. Many homebuyers will prefer to work with a seller agent as they know the process will be smooth and professional rather than trying to negotiate directly with an owner.

These are just a few of the reasons you won’t want to go it alone when you sell your home. For more information about local home sales, contact your local real estate professional today.

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3 Useful Tips for First-time Homebuyers Trying to Navigate the System

Posted in Home Buyer Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on September 13th, 2017

3 Useful Tips for First-time Homebuyers Trying to Navigate the SystemWhether you’re tired of renting, need more space or want to make an upgrade, buying your first home is the solution. However, if you have never participated in the market before it can be a bit daunting at first. Let’s explore a few useful tips that are helpful for first-time homebuyers who are new to the process of buying real estate.

Tip #1: Begin With The End In Mind

Before you start exploring local home listings and shopping around, it’s worth asking yourself both what you ‘need’ in a home and what you ‘want’ in a home. For example, are you single or married? If you are married or are likely to be in the near future, are you planning on having a family? Will you need space for pets? What area of the city is most convenient for your commute? And so on. If you start by knowing exactly what you need, it will be that much easier to narrow down your options.

Tip #2: The Market Determines The Value Of A House

The second tip to keep in mind is that your local real estate market is what determines how much a home is worth. What you can afford has nothing to do with a home’s value, nor does your opinion of its current condition. In some cities, homes will sell with the intention of being torn down after the purchase completes.

Tip #3: Go Low, Start Slow

Finally, when you’re ready to make an offer, it should be one that is as low as possible without insulting the homeowner. Buying a house is not like buying groceries or clothing. The price isn’t fixed and is certainly going to be open to negotiation. Conversely, you shouldn’t be surprised if and when the seller makes a counteroffer against yours. The more you’re prepared for a lengthy back-and-forth to hammer out a final price, the more likely you are to be successful.

When you’re ready to buy your first home, contact your trusted real estate professional and we’ll be happy to help.

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Ready to Buy Your First Home? Don’t Forget to Check Your Credit Score – Here’s Why

Posted in Home Buyer Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on September 12th, 2017

Ready to Buy Your First Home? Don't Forget to Check Your Credit Score – Here's WhyWhether you’re just out of college, recently married or simply haven’t jumped into the market yet, buying your first home is an exciting prospect. It can also be an expensive one, which is why most people will take out a mortgage to help finance the cost.

If you are planning on engaging with a mortgage lender, you’ll need to have your finances in order. In today’s post, we’ll share a few key reasons why you’ll want to check your credit score well in advance of buying your first home.

Your Credit Score Is A Signal For Lenders

As you know, mortgage lenders have a responsibility to lend to those individuals and families who are at a low risk of default. So when a mortgage lender starts to dig into your financial background, they are looking at your credit history and credit score to help them assess that risk.

Note that having a low score doesn’t necessarily mean you have bad credit. If you’re still in your 20s and have only had a credit card, your score might be low even though you are fully capable of managing a mortgage.

Your Score Impacts Your Mortgage Interest Rate

As mentioned above, your credit score helps to signify your risk. If your credit score is in a lower range, perhaps a 640 or 660, you’re presenting a greater risk than someone with a score of 760 or 800. Because of this, the interest rate that you pay on your mortgage will in part be determined by your credit score. Those individuals who present a higher risk pay a higher rate to compensate. And vice versa, if your credit is spotless you can expect to pay a lower interest rate.

You’ll Need Time To Challenge Any Issues

Finally, you’ll need to give yourself some lead time to challenge any irregularities with your credit report. The credit reporting agencies aren’t perfect and they do make mistakes. There may be some old, retired credit card or other debt sitting on your report which is holding the score down. Even worse, there may be some incorrect delinquency or other error which ends up as a big red flag for potential mortgage lenders.

As you can see, it’s worth spending the time to check your credit score. You get to check it for free once per year, so take advantage of the opportunity. And when you’re ready to discuss buying your first home, contact your local professional real estate agent. We’ll share how to navigate the credit score and mortgage process so you can land the home of your dreams.

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Selling Your Home? 3 Secrets to Getting the Best Price

Posted in Home Seller Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on September 8th, 2017

Selling Your Home? 3 Secrets to Getting the Best PriceAre you ready to sell your home? Whether you’re just starting to make your plans or you’re ready to list now, you likely want to know how you can get top dollar. It’s going to take more than just throwing up a high price on the listing and waiting for a buyer to show up with a check. With that in mind, here are three secrets to ensuring that when you sell your house or condo, you get the best possible price.

Great Staging Is Critical To Your Success

The first secret is that you’ll really need to consider how you want to stage the outside and inside of your home. Staging your home is your best way to make a positive impression on potential buyers. Think about the difference in perception it makes arriving to view a beautiful, spotless and well-lit home compared with one that looks dirty or messy. Invest the time and money in staging your home and it will increase the value in the buyer’s eyes.

Let A Professional Take Care Of The Heavy Lifting

It probably comes as no surprise that buyers who engage the assistance of a professional real estate agent end up selling for more than those who try to go it alone. A great selling agent will have their eyes and ears tuned to the local real estate market and will have insight into current selling trends. They can also research other recent home sales in your local community and can share which price is likely to attract the most offers. When it comes time to field offers, your agent will be able to help you understand how much you can counter-offer without scaring off the buyer.

Be Willing To Negotiate With The Right Buyer

Finally, to ensure you get the most you can out of your sale you’ll need to remain open to negotiating with potential buyers. You may find that a great buyer needs some extra time to close their financing. Or that they’re willing to bump up their asking price in exchange for you making some easy renovations before turning the keys over to them. The more you’re willing to be flexible with your pricing and terms, the better your chances of securing a buyer that will give you a fair price for your home.

If you’re thinking about selling your home, contact your professional real estate agent. We’re happy to share our insight and experience to help you with the selling process.

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Four Mistakes to Avoid When Making an Offer for Your Dream Home

Posted in Home Buyer Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on September 7th, 2017

Four Mistakes to Avoid When Making an Offer for Your Dream HomeYou’ve scoured the new home listings, been to all the open houses and have finally found the home of your dreams. It is now time to draft an offer and begin the negotiation process. Below we’ll share four mistakes that you will want to avoid when making an offer on your dream home.

Mistake #1 – Not Working With A Professional

The first mistake that home buyers make is trying to buy a home without using the services of a real estate professional. Buying a home is a significant financial transaction and one where the seller and their agent are working hard to ensure they come out ahead. Having experienced representation on your side of the table ensures that you won’t be taken advantage of.

Mistake #2 – Skipping The Home Inspection

The second mistake – and one that is more common than you think – is skipping the home inspection. There are countless instances of home buyers thinking that the house looks great on the outside without realizing that there are issues with the roof, the foundation, the plumbing, inside the walls or some other area that’s tough to see. Having the house professionally inspected before tabling an offer ensures that issues are fixed up before the transaction is complete. Alternately, if you’re willing to move ahead regardless, you can ask for the price to be reduced as compensation.

Mistake #3 – Not Being Pre-Approved For Financing

The third mistake in our list is making an offer on a home without being pre-approved for the amount of mortgage financing you will need. Regardless of how good your credit is, the mortgage application process is one that can present challenges. Also, many home sellers will require evidence of financing pre-approval before accepting an offer, so it’s best to come prepared.

Mistake #4 – Taking On Other Debts

Once you’ve decided on the home you want to purchase, you will want to avoid taking on any other debts which can affect your credit score. Don’t buy a car, open any new credit cards or do anything else which will show up on your credit report. Once you are pre-approved for your mortgage, you’ll want to keep your credit as spotless as possible to ensure that nothing goes wrong.

If you’re prepared and clear-headed, the offer process will go smoothly and you’ll soon be moving into your dream home. When you’re ready to explore local real estate options, contact your trusted real estate professional.

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Real Estate Negotiations: 3 Tricks That You Can Use to Ensure Yours Is the Winning Bid

Posted in Home Buyer Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on August 31st, 2017

Real Estate Negotiations: 3 Tricks That You Can Use to Ensure Yours Is the Winning BidYou’ve toured through a number of listings, attended all the open houses and have found your potential new dream home. Now the hard part begins, especially if you’re working against other buyers who are keen on getting the same home as you. Let’s take a look at three tricks that you can use to make sure the bid you submit on a home is the one that wins.

Don’t Start With A Lowball Offer

First, it’s important to note that the offer itself needs to be a fair one. If you approach a home seller with a low offer, you’ll likely discover that they’re not too interested in accepting it. Even worse, if your offer is too low, you risk the seller feeling insulted. And that might prevent you from being able to counter with a higher price to be more competitive. Instead, consider bidding on the low end of a reasonable, fair price range as your starting bid. That way the seller knows that you’re serious and is more willing to entertain the conversation.

Let A Real Estate Agent Handle It

If you want to make an offer that a seller can’t refuse, you’ll want to work with a real estate agent. An experienced agent that has helped dozens of buyers with the purchasing process will have critical knowledge that will be useful in making the right bid. Plus, if you end up receiving a counter-offer from the seller, an agent can assist you with understanding the terms and touching up your bid to get the deal done.

Keep Your Cool And Be Ready For The Counter

Speaking of counter-offers, you’ll want to ensure that you keep an open mind when it comes to negotiating with the home seller. Unless your offer is close to or over the listing price, the seller is likely to counter your opening bid. This is normal and is a sign that they’re interested, so from here it’s your job to ensure that you sweeten the deal just enough that they’re willing to close.

These are just a few of the ways that you can ensure that the bid you make on a home is the one the seller accepts. For more tips and insight into buying a house in your area, contact your local real estate professional today. We look forward to connecting!

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